Cat Longevity

Old Cat

Old Cat. 20. Photo Diti the penguin

Cats live longer than dogs. The cats most likely to live the longest are well loved random-bred cats. The cats most likely to live the shortest are ill-treated purebreds. Cross-breeding results in hybrid vigor. Inbreeding results in health problems including immune system problems and congenital defects. I realise that is a gross simplification but it does make the point. A well loved moggie might live to 20 years and more. Purebreds are considered old at 7 years of age by some people.

Whereas people suffer decline in old age for about the last third of their lives, cat old age lasts for the final tenth of their lives. They become less flexible, more addicted to routine and sometimes suffer from dementia, which amongst other things can result in nighttime howling due to confusion. The lack of flexibility results in poor coat condition. Very old cats require more intensive human caretaking just like very old people.

Neutered tom cats live longer than unneutered toms by about three years. There are two reasons (a) they have less fights (b) they are more resistant to infection.

Do you know why cats live longer than dogs? There appears to be no one simple answer. My theory is that the major reason is that the percentage of purebred dogs to the overall dog population is higher than for cats. Apparently 55% of dogs are purebred. Twenty-five percent of dogs at shelters are purebred, which is much higher than for cats.

It is difficult to find figures for cats but my guess is that the percentage of purebred cats is very low, well below 10%, perhaps around 3%.

Accepting that purebred companion animals shorter lives than moggies, this explains the difference in longevity between domestic cats and dogs. Of course, feral and stray cats live much shorter lives on average.

A 20 year old cat is almost 100 years old in human terms. Cats reach maturity in 1/15th of their lifespan while humans do the same in 1/5th – slower.

It can be quite tricky to judge a cat’s age. I wrote a page about it. You’ll find different views from different sources about the oldest feline. One cat had named “Puss” had a lifespan of 36 years (1903-1939).

Although I have stated that Siamese cats are the world’s most unhealthy cat, one visitor to PoC wrote about “Jellbean”, a Siamese who lived to 30 years of age.


Facebook Discussion


Cat Longevity — 7 Comments

  1. I hope my cats live for a very long time. Then they won’t hold it against me that I kept them locked up and safe for the first 5 years of their lives. 🙂

  2. We can only do our best to ensure our cats have long healthy lives but sometimes fate steps in. We lost Alice at only 3 years old as she had brain lesions. I think this was caused by the dog who killed her mother and siblings and injured her as a kitten. We lost Popsy at 5 years old due to a serious chest complaint I think was caused by her bad treatment as a kitten.
    Once kittens/cats come into our care we do our best to keep them healthy but we can’t change the effects of their past.
    It’s just the same with people really, some of us live long lives, some even with healthy lifestyles die young, it’s fate!

  3. My first cat “Trixie” , an “Albino/Siamese mix which i happened to adopt from a pet shop in a dying condition lived with us for 12 years .Tragically, the last one year of her life was miserable due to cancer.Hope my present two traditional Persian cats be my non-human companion for many years.The female Matahari is 6 years old while her kitten tomcat mata is 4 years old.

    • I would expect your cats to live long because they are well cared for and traditional Persians which are healthier than contemporary Persians. There is a very high incidence of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in Persians in the West at about 35%. This is serious disease which must reduce life expectancy. I wonder if the same problem exists in India?

      • Michael,years ago sometime in 2007 i did voluntary free social service of occasionally visiting the “S.P.C.A Hospital(Parel)” in Mumbai to walk the stray dogs undergoing free medical treatment at the hospital.During that time i interacted with and met various pet owners including a few cat owners. I should say that “Polycystic Disease(PKD)” was the common disease that effected most cats brought to the hospital,the owners complaining that their cats had difficulty in urinating. I distinctly remember a traditional Persian cat brought to the hospital by its owner for kidney disease as this breed was a rarity among cat owners in Mumbai.Today in 2013 Traditional Persian cats are quite common amongst pet owners in Mumbai and i am not sure if most of this breed is still susceptible to “PKD” disease since i don’t regularly visit Vet clinics or the hospital.

        • Interesting to me Rudolph because it indicates that PKD affects Persians worldwide. That might mean the disease originates from long ago. I might try and check that out. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.